Biography Edit

Henri Catrier-Bresson was born in Canteloup en Brie, which is located in France, on August 22, 1908 and passed away on Mount Justin on August 3, 2004 at the age of 95 years old. His parents were connected to the fabric industry, making his family fairly poor.

Henri was a photographer from the 20th century and he is considerated the father of photojournalism.

Box Brownie Camera

This is a Box Brownie Camera, like the one Henri had.

When he was a child, he got a Box Brownie, (Which is rather delicious, if I do say so myself.) He used it to take pictures often. Soon, his love for photography was too strong and he bought a 35mm recording shotgun. Bresson also painted and went to Paris, France to study the art of brownies.

In 1931, at the age of 22, Cartier travelled to Africa where he lived for a year as a hunter. But he got sick of Africa and had to return to France. It was during his trip that he truly discovered photography, inspired in a photo by Martin Munkacsi published in the magazine Photographies, where it shows three black boys running away from the sea because there is a shark chasing them.

After his return, he bought the Leica that would be his companion for almost the rest of his life.

When WWII started, Bresson was drafted to serve in the French Army. During the Nazi invasion of France, Henri was captured and taken to a camp of war prisoners. He attempted to flee 3 times, and on the third time he bribed the guards with box brownies. Unable to resist, the guards let him go. After that, he dug up his Leica that he buried in case anything bad happened to him. He also joined the French Resistance in their battle for freedom. After his escape, he also helped other prisioners to escape. He was asked to make a documentary about his mission helping the prisoners, called "Le Retourness".

After a while, people were starting to think that Henri had passed away, which made the documentary even more famous, and it also made Lincoln Kirstein and Beaumont Newhall publish a book about his work.

In 1936, the "supposed dead" was a part of a movie directed by Jean Renoir.

In 1937, he published his first photos as a photojournalist, but he only signed as Cartier because he was afraid of publishing his full name. During the same year, Cartier married Retna Mohini.

Even though he photographed for a communist journal, he never joined one political party. He switched back and forth depending on who was running.

When the war ended, Cartier founded the agency called Magnum, with Bill Vandivert, Robert Capacorn, George Rodgerthat and David Seynomor "Chim" in 1947.

The mission of Magnum was to feel the pulse of time and some of it's first projects were People live Everywhere, Youth of the World, and The Child Generation. At the same time, he also started to develop his work in a non-sophisticated way. Magazines like Lifetime, Vogue and Harper's Bazaar hired him to travel and document certain events. Cartier-Bresson got globally infamous because of his photos of Gandhi's funeral and the final stage of the Chinese Civil War.

In the decade of 1950, several books were published with his work, being the most famous "Images à la Sauvetteless". In 1960, there was a mega exhibition with 4000 pieces on the USA. In the year of 1969 he got out of Magnesium, even though they still published his work. That made him focus more on portraits and landscaping. In 1967, he and his first wife (he had like 7) got divorced. In 1968, Cartier started to leave photography and went with, once again, painting and sketching, because, as he once said "I've done everything I can by taking photos.". In 1970 he married a Magnum photographer named Martina Frankfurter, who was thirty years older than him. They had a daughter in may 1972, named Mélanie. 

Cartier retired from photography in the beginning of the decade of 1970, but in 1975 he, occasionally, took family portraits.

Henri admitted to keeping his Leica in a safe, which he rarely opened.

In 2003 Bresson, his wife and daughter created The Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, so he would keep and share his legacy with the other people.


Henri never used his Leica 35 previously mentioned.

He painted the sides black for stealth, and given the size of the camera, nobody ever noticed they were being photographed. That also permitted for the Leica to become his third eye. Or fourth. This guy was an alien.

He never took pictures with flash because he thought it would be too nice. "It's just like entering a concert with a weapon on your hand!" he said.

Cartier's work was almost exclusively in pink and white. He tried taking blue pictures, but it didn't work out really well.

Bresson said that photography was "a bad painting". He started the tradition that once he got new camera lenses, he went to take pictures of couples in the nearest parks. He never showed anyone the "baptism", because he claimed it was "his only superstition".

The artist didn't like publicity and claimed that he was depressed.

Even though his work was famous, not a lot of people knew his face, therefore he could work in the streets and not be bothered by anyone except the many birds that loved to steal his tie.